Friday, February 27, 2009
take a peak!
Grayceon - This Grand Show - Read my review for more, but this band creates some crazy combinations of thrash, rock, and all sorts of other stuff - and they use a cello as one of the main insturments. Really good stuff.
by GIANT SQUID (Experimental/Post Metal)
From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website
Normally when I get a new album, I like to give it at least a few weeks before I write a review, but being that this is an up and coming band and they unfortunately won't get as many reviews as they deserve, I see fit to write on my second day of owning this album. I got it in the mail yesterday morning, after several months of anticipation, and eagerly went and listened instantly. Immediately after, I listened again. At the time of this writing, I've listened to The Ichthyologist six times and so far I have only good things to say about this album. First, a basic overview. It's a concept album, based on a graphic novel by guitarist/vocalist Aaron Gregory, who can explain the concept a bit better than I can:
Through the thoughts of the album's protagonists, a man stripped of his humanity and left with nothing but the sea in front of him, comes a story about adapting in inhuman ways to survive the shock of human loss and total emotional tragedy, becoming something else entirely in the process.
The storyline isn't a very hapy one, I won't ruin it for others with details, but odds are you might need a little cheering up after listening to this. The band sticks with the sea related themes they've been known for throughout their short career.
Musically, the line up has changed from the last album. A new drummer is on board and second guitarist/vocalist Aurielle Gregory was replaced by cellist/vocalist Jackie Perez-Gratz. A number of guest vocalists appear as well as a flautist, an oboe, a violin, and a trumpet. Certainly there is no lack of diversity in instrumentation. There's also no lack of diversity in terms of the music here.
Imagine a giant squid. What does that inspire? Perhaps fear at it's massive size and brutal apearance? But there's also an air of mystery. It's a litle understood creature. If you can translate that into music, it accurately sums up the music of this band.
Panthalassa starts with an intriguing drum part, building into a very aggressive song. Perfect high energy way to start the album.
La Brea Tar Pits is a slower, heavier, doomy song. you can feel a sense of despondency take hold, and can't help but be moved by the desperation here.
Sutterville is a softer song, but still with a very dark atmosphere.
Dead Man Slough is a song that starts off in a deceptively soft and cheerful manner for the subject matter at hand. It then transforms into another crushing dirge.
Throwing a Donner Party at Sea is a remake of a song off their Monster in the Creek EP. This version seems to be more aggressive, and also more organic sounding, with cello taking over for the keys on the original version.
Sevengill starts extremely soft, then becomes possibly the heaviest song on the album, with some very brutal screams courtesy of Aaron. This is possibly my favourite song on the album, it's absolutely awe- inspiring.
Mormon Island is soft and haunting throughout. It's a sort of violin-driven lamentful piece. Soft, but I wouldn't call it a ballad. Towards the end, some banjo joins the violins and celloss to add a nice sonic contrast.
Blue Linckia is another heavy one. The band said that it was probably the most upbeat one on this album, and I agree. Despite the heaviness, several of the riffs used are very triumphant sounding, and the llyrics are of a defiant nature, using the metaphor of a starfish and it's biological ability to regenerate body parts as metaphor for the main character's resiliency.
Emerald Bay is another soft one, with some oboe parts accentuating the lamentful nature of the tune. This song feels like hopelessness set to music, and you get the feeling of someone at peace with the fact that their end is near, knowing that there is no more hope and completely accepting it.
rubicon Wall is a song of release. All the tension that is built up throughout the album is released with Jackie's cello lines. The feeling I get here is one of sorrow, but a peaceful one. There is definitely a feeling of relief that you get listening to this song, but you still want to go back to track one and re-live the journey, however dark it is, again.
I honestly can't say enough good about this band and abum. I didn't think their debut was a masterpiece, but I think it showed a band with potential, a potential I think they've realized here. There's a greater variance in the music here, and they know how to craft a good song, and even though the songs are often long and repetitive, they keep your attention. Sonically, this album is brilliant. The instruments all sound very natural, and the tone is perfect for this music. Down tuned guitars and rock n roll fuzz abound, and balance out nicely with the trumpets, cello, etc. I know it's a limited release, but if you can, I highly recommend you find a copy of The Ichthyologist and hear for yourself just why it is that I'm so excited. This is some of the most honest, sincere, and best executed music out there today, and I think every music fan owes it to themselves to hear Giant Squid at least once. Again, this isn't just fanboy enthusiasm for a new album, this is genuine excitement that is found only upon hearing something I find truly great. Five Stars! Well done Giant Squid! Keep up the good work
BY JOSH RUFFIN
AUGUSTA, GA - At the end of my first couple of sit-downs with their new album, I was afraid that it might not be fair to Motorik to review them only three months after writing about PR-mates Caves. After all, both groups take liberal cues from the classic new-wave outfits, and sound like they would be equally capable of blowing a few hundred bucks on eBay for a vintage Police poster. Plus, “Get On With It” was a stellar album, and I still have the title track superballing around my frontal lobe.
When you really dig into “Klang!” however, it becomes readily evident that Motorik is more entrenched in post-punk and kraut rock (their name’s not a giveaway at all) than in dance-ready garage boogie. Sure, most of these tracks are catchy enough to coax a jerky nod from even the stiffest of necks, but the trio executes their grooves with an underlying iciness that renders their hooks as sinister as they are potent; opener “Or So I Thought,” with its gut-punch bass lines and lead fills sleek enough to resemble synthesizers, is a prime example.
The band is rock-solid and synched-up, but guitarist Adrian Garver may turn out to the affair’s most unsung hero, with a playing style more layered, inspired, and nuanced variety than typical genre mainstays. His gritty closing lead on “Utopia Parkway” pierces the ears and clasps the throat, while “Potent Kiss’” harsh power chords give way to snake-like diminished riffs.
By the time the chaotic feedback of moody closer “Six Filters”—incidentally the only track on here that might fit the “Lost Boys” soundtrack—segues into a cap-off drum march, you’re probably going to be bewildered enough to give “Klang!” a second listen. And that’s how they getcha.
Thursday, January 29th, 2009 at 2:00pm by Satan Rosenbloom
Blame it on the rigors of moving home cities yet again, or changing drummers as frequently as Spinal Tap, or trying to best their universally hailed first album Metridium Field: Giant Squid sound exhausted on The Ichthyologist. More depressed than angry. Not so overtly metal. Lethargic in their rhythms, loose in their playing. Maybe it’s all intentional, given the stark emotional terrain of the source material - based on band leader Aaron Gregory’s graphic novel of the same name, The Ichthyologist records the thoughts of a numbed narrator as he turns to the sea to escape the pain of personal tragedy and loss. Gregory’s lyrics dwell in dank, lightless places. If on Metridium Field Giant Squid were skimming the sea’s surface in search of their namesake seabeast, this one finds them sinking, pulled down into the fathomless depths.
That’s not a bad thing, as there’s a host of fantastical wonders to behold under the sea. The addition of electric cellist Jackie Perez-Gratz to Giant Squid’s ranks means all kinds of brittle and beautiful textures that you rarely hear outside of her other band, the bonerific Grayceon. Trumpets add to the Spanish feel of opener “Panthalassa,” surely the heaviest bolero fanfare ever recorded. Banjo colors “Dead Man Slough” with homey plucking and Perez-Gratz’s sister Cat brings a plaintive oboe to “Emerald Bay.” Then there’s Gregory’s ever-expanding vocal versatility, which takes him from gravelly end-time preacher to Muslim muezzin, with a couple pitstops in howling beastyville.
There is a frustrating sogginess that seeps in to The Ichthyologist, perhaps inevitable for an album of such scope and so many guest musicians. Producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon/Isis/Botch) clearly had a bitch of a task balancing Giant Squid’s natural rawness with some of the band’s more grandiose ideas – Lorraine Rath’s flute obligato gets lost in the droning opening section of “Sevengill,” and a cameo vocal by Anneke van Giersbergen (formerly of The Gathering) nearly finds the same fate. It’s no surprise that two of the album’s most affecting songs, “La Brea Tar Pits” and the bottom-feeding mood piece “Mormon Island,” are also its most stripped-down.
Still, it’s a colorful aquarium that Giant Squid are floating in, and the fact that the band’s tentacles extend to both the lazy shuffle “Sutterville” and the Neurosis crunch of “Blue Linckia” without stretching too much is mighty impressive in itself. The ecstatic peaks of The Ichthyologist aren’t as easily reached as with the band’s earlier stuff – if you’re looking for the thrilling brutality of “Sutter’s Fort” from Giant Squid’s 2007 split with Grayceon, you better go study fish elsewhere – but if you’re willing to wade through some of its murkier waters, there’s enough high-grade chum on The Ichthyologist to make the swim worth your while.
(3 out of 5 horns)
It was a very nice surprise to hear Giant Squid’s Metridium Fields’ about three years ago. It was a rather refreshing listen that seemed to stand on its impervious own at a time when post rock was just a little monster and metal was errr…metal. Back then Giant Squid weren’t reinventing the wheel, but whatever it is that they did with their aquatic open notes and extended songs, they ended up with a pretty nifty album. This time around, now without the help of The End Records, they are proving that the lucidity of Metridium Fields was not a lucky strike. In fact, The Ichtyologist improves over the previous recordings. It is both more beautiful and more difficult, which is to say that it is heavier and yet also gentler.
The heaviness of The Ichtyologist is nothing more than an extension of the dynamics worked on during Metridium Fields; big open riffs work entrancing melodies that at times seem influenced by middle eastern folk. Hypnotizing stuff. Repeated incessantly in the span of seven minutes is enough to idiotize, in the good sense of the word. The first two songs show just that, “Panthalassa” and “La Brea Tar Pits” are strange song titles but are stranger post apocalyptic doom/stoner. Don’t even get me started with that post-rock shit. Massive tunes indeed. The pretty starts right about then, “Sutterville” is theatric and whimsical. And elegant piece that could fit right there adorning the imagination of Tim Burton. I am assuming here is where Lorraine Rath and Kris Force from Amber Asylum assist the band.
“Dead Man Slough” is a great song. A bit melancholic it balances expertly the picking and strumming of strings. When Giant Squid get heavy vocalist Aaron Gregory recalls SOAD’s Serj Tankian sans the epileptic seizures. That’s a good thing by the way. The music of Giant Squid and SOAD are polar opposites and there isn’t a stylistic thread in common. The Gathering’s Anneke Van Gierbesbergen does a cameo in “Sevengill”, another slow number with a miserable cello touch and her angelic touch. Need I go song by song to tell you how satisfying it is? Nah. The Ichtyologist is an album that shall speak for itself. I’ve been waiting for it for months and it was worth the wait. If you enjoyed Metridium Fields chances are you too have been waiting for it. Too bad it is only getting a digital release.
Wonderful, tinny slice of electro
pop heaven. Imagine if the
Postal Service met up with the
Human League to play some
old-school Nintendo, and someone recorded it on
a tape recorder to play back to you over the
phone. It might sound a lot like this addictive CD.
-- Keith Valcourt, Hustler Mar 2008
VINYL OF THE MONTH
by Master Slash Slave
Format: 140gram, 12-inch
Label: Free News Project
Artwork: Mikayla Butchart
Manufacturer: GZ Media (
Recorded by Ephriam Nagler at Soundwave Studios
Mixed by Ephriam Nagler | Mastered by Fritz Seig
It’s believed that there are only four operational DMM (direct-to-metal mastering) lathes in the world – two are owned by the Scientologists, one by Optimal Media in
A black and white record label decorates each six-song side of the vinyl, which the band has manufactured in Bloody Mary Maroon, Olive Green and Classic Black. It would be remiss to discuss this LP without reveling in its packaging. Mikayla Butchart truly did an incredible job on the record’s artwork. The setting is a Victorian-era street, easily a stretch of
In contrast to the darker tones on the outside of the jacket, the inside is bright. Each contributing player has their own flora-framed portrait in the corner, however the star players, featured most prominently in the centerfold, are the Oberheim OB-8 and the Roland Juno 106, with the Roland MC-500 and MC-300 as side support. Even the liner notes below proudly state, “No keyboards were used in the making of this record that weren’t an Oberheim OB-8 or a Roland Juno 106. Rest in peace MC-300, you had a good run.”
The vinyl medium serves this band and this album well, giving the music added texture and making it all the more evocative, affective, sweaty and raw. It’s the details that count here and Master Slash Slave has taken them all into consideration, creating an imaginative package from the engaging artwork to the crafty music. Those who look closely will find secret words of wisdom engraved on the vinyl itself (Side A: Don’t Get Arrested; Side B: Don’t Get Her Pregnant). And for the final touch, each LP’s polybag is smartly stocked with a certificate for three free downloads of the full album so listeners can enjoy some good old-fashioned scandal at home with a needle or strolling down McAllister Street (with a brown-bagged beer).
Matt Jones is all grown-up now. Gone are the days of angst-filled lyrics sung (and sometimes screamed) over raw, catchy youthful tunes in the vein of his high school band, Life in Braille. Instead, here are creative and complex song structures consisting of programmed beats which push along sometimes distorted sometimes crystalline guitar lines and syncopated drum work.
But this isn’t simple evolution from one band to the next. Consider Life in Braille the prepubescent start, a project dictated by the ambiguity of real life, from hormones and heartbreak all the way to and through false starts and fair-weather friendships. Meanwhile, Master Slash Slave is an entirely separate chapter – in fact many stories and incarnations occur between the two – that comes from the perspective of a man nearly a decade later who has learned quite a bit, regardless of the fact that he has a lot more room to grow.
Still, there are striking similarities. For one, the protagonist at the center of it all: Jones himself. His singing – sometimes solid, other times breathy – is always absolute. There is no uncertainty, no wishy-washiness, no two ways about it. While it’s easy to compare his singing to Les Savy Fav’s Tim Harrington or even Cursive’s Tim Kasher, there really is no room for assessment. Jones’ vocal style always has been and always will be his very own.
While the path to the release of “Scandal” was paved with near perpetual line-up changes, Master Slash Slave is finally coming into its own with the addition of drummer Matthew Morgan. The album is mostly punctuated by dance-worthy numbers heavy on the new wave sound, like “Expensive Goodbyes,” although songs like “False Dichotomies” take things down a notch, with a post-punk vibe slightly more Joy Division than New Order. And don’t forget opener “Cold Calls” and the seventh-inning stretch, “Na Zdrowie,” serving as fancy electronic interludes not unlike video game samples a la The Advantage.
As much as Morgan brings to the band, there is no denying that Master Slash Slave truly belongs to and is realized in and through Jones. While intricacy is a gift of his, Jones is clearly his best when he’s stripped down and vulnerable, like in the acoustic “Nastasya” or the awkwardly heartfelt “High Heels,” which boasts some of Jones’ most eloquent and telling lyrical work. Keep your ears out for Master Slash Slave; this is only the beginning of a far more developed, much more interesting Jones. [By: Natalye Childress Smith]
Release Date: November 18, 2008
Mike Pardew: Azul (Afan Music)
Release date: April 21, 2009
January 19, 2009 at 10:50pm by Robert Ham
Ever since I convinced my mom to buy me a copy of Miles Davis's album Kind of Blue and listened to it intently on my cheap Walkman-knockoff for about a week straight, I've been fascinated, confounded and absolutely in love with jazz.
Luckily for me I live in a city that seems as jazz crazy as I am. Portland is wonderful in that it reveres hometown heroes like Mel Brown and Darrell Grant while paying heed to the young bucks that are breaking into this sometimes-insular world.
One such player is pianist Ben Darwish. This native Portlander has been making quite a name for himself of late through his work with hip-hop and funk groups like Ohmega Watts and his own group, Commotion. But where his abilities on a keyboard really shine is when he fronts his own trio. And it is with this group that Darwish is putting out a new CD entitled, Ode To Consumerism (out on February 20th).
Recorded live at Jimmy Mak's, the trio works up a very rowdy crowd with a heady concoction of originals and some interesting covers. In the former category, Darwish and his cohorts (bassist Eric Gruber and drummer Jason Palmer) work in a post-bop milieu. The multi-part title track takes them from the rollicking drive of the opening section to a more plaintive middle that allows Darwish to extemporize in a state of controlled chaos. And it all builds up to a gloriously cacophonic conclusion.
As for the cover songs, there aren't going to be too many jazz trios willing to put their stamp to a Green Day hit, but they do, pulling "Longview" apart and stretching its familiar melodies like taffy. And they have the gumption to close this album with a lovely workout of the well-worn ground that is "Killing Me Softly". That they manage to find unexpected nuance in this modern standard is a testament to this group's estimable skills in arrangement.
Another interesting young player in Portland jazz is guitarist Mike Pardew. He's not new to the scene, having shared the stage with Brown, Mary Kadderly and Dan Balmer, amongst others. But he is releasing his second album as the leader of a trio - Azul (out this spring on Afan Music). It's a lean, muscular album that shows Pardew and his band - including bassist Damian Erskine and drummer Micah Kassel - as a force to be reckoned with.
Some tracks on Azul carry a fusion flair, mixing in elements of psychedelia on "Road Worn" and "Velonis", with Pardew tearing into his guitar with a very Carlos Santana-like tone and attack. Others take on a more subdued flavor, like the swinging "Transgression" and a quite lovely track that takes its name and inspiration from the small Italian town of Ferrazzano. It's a strong collection from an equally strong group of players.
August 21, 2008
Filed under: Cedric, Music, Punk, Release Notes, Rock — Tags: adrian garver, bass, CD, Culturemob, drums, garage, gero, gits, guitar, hoagie, klang!, motorik, myspace, release, Rock, sio — cedric @ 11:28 pm
“KLANG!” is the debut cd released by Seattle band motorik.
This 9 song CD (recorded by Jack Endino at SoundHouse and Gary Mula at Calleye) is all heart and no nonsense. They have the sound of a garage rock band with punk influences. Three tracks to pay attention to are 2> box of knives, 4> it’s just sugar and 5> utopia parkway.
Box of knives is the sound of a San Francisco smoke filled punk club in the late 80’s. Towards the end of the track, guitarist Adrian Garver (D.C. Beggars) plays a high pitched siren like riff that defines the entire CD. My favorite is a track called it’s just sugar. Sio’s (Andover 7, Nod, Smile) intense vocals offer no amnesty for the casual listener. She’s not trying to make friends, she’s belting out painful memories (or so it seems by this listener). Finally, utopia parkway is what you get when your drummer isn’t going to take no for an answer. In fact, drummer Hoagie Gero (D.C. Beggars) is tight, loud and extremely creative throughout this CD. I mean, who is this guy anyway?
Klang! is an ambitious garage rock CD that could have easily fell short of it’s destination. A lesser band would have turned around and gone home. Instead, the combination of these three artists manage to demonstrate what good instincts and a healthy disregard for “SOS” can do. I loved it!
go to the motorik artist page at culturemob.com!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
"For the Cause"
Release date: May 19, 2009 (self-released)
The Capulets versus the Montagues circa 2009. Competition breeds Romeo Spike's debut album, For The Cause: A review.
-Lucy ShafferI have never been convinced that any form of musical group could remind me of an adjective such as futuristic. To be futuristic, you must be cutting-edge, innovative, and a pioneering revolutionary. Unbelievably, the two gentlemen of Romeo Spike somehow accomplish this with only themselves performing all of the vocal and orchestrating numerous instruments that would traditionally be played by between four and six or more members. Their instrumentals, lyrics and refreshing sound will prove to audiences everywhere that you can make music that is out of this world and still been perceived as multi-faceted and talented.
Stemming from Atlanta Georgia, this "futuristic classic rock" band brings a new sound to the free world. Members Mike Kunz (Vocals, Rhodes electric piano, Guitars, Bass, Drums, and Programming) and Donn Aaron (Background Vocals, Pedal Steel, Guitars, Bass, Drums, Casio, Kaoss) are a thrilling combination, inspired by artists such as The Rolling Stones, The Flaming Lips, and Led Zeppelin. They describe their sound as having a somewhat "pumpkin pie" consistency, possibly meaning that their passion for music is the crust, the foundation of all that they do. The spice-filled, sweet and tangy filling is the actual music, lyrics and instrumentals, that are smooth with a bit of an edge, that compliment the foundation well.
When asked to describe what Romeo Spike means to them and why they exist, they replied: "A literary allusion, the artistic and almost mockingly decorative Romeo Spikes were meant to keep young "Romeos" from climbing up the poles to meet their "Juliets" in the balconies of 19th Century Spanish townhouses of New Orleans. The presence of a diminished number of Romeo Spikes remain still today in the French Quarter and also sprinkled throughout Savannah, GA, Charleston, SC and Pensacola, FL." Confusing, yet intriguing, so I decided to investigate a little more into the lives of these gentlemen.
The most interesting quality of these two is that they were randomly brought together by a mutual friend. While one guy was residing in Chicago, the other was living in Atlanta. The two became instant comrades and began to have song writing challenges weekly. They would submit their songs to each other via email and phone and then rework the songs together to make them feel right to both parties. Eventually, they stopped having the competitions and began seriously working on a full-length album, titled "For the Cause." While they were producing this album, their music came to the attention of Matt Still, who had been an engineer and producer for Elton John. As soon as they began collaborations, the album came together.
This unexpected uniting of forces came to be exist as what Kunz and Aaron had been waiting their entire lives for. These two believe that its truly "... all about the song." Kunz stated, "You just have to play one note and listen for all the music that is already there."
So if you can appreciate the music of Cold Play, Ben Folds, or Pink Floyd, then please allow Romeo Spike to enrich your life. You can visit their MySpace account at www.myspace.com/romeospike or visit the band's official site at www.romeospike.com. They currently have no posted tour dates for 2009, but keep checking back on the website for some definite dates. They will open your mind to a world of new beginnings, second chances, and a new age of music that has the potential to change lives.
Motorik - Klang! - Review
by Staff, at 5:53 pm
Music Reviews | permalink | rss
Release Date: July 29th, 2008
Record Label: None
It’s rare that you might run into a word that was coined by music journalists and even more rare that a band would use it as a name. The word “Motorik” was made to describe the 4/4 beat used by German rock bands (often called “Krautrock”). It also means “motor skill” in German and I wasn’t exactly sure which this band was driving at. Even with the name of their new record “Klang!,” I still wasn’t quite sure. Did they mean the klang of a busted engine, or the klang of a weird set of drum kits. Either way, these nine tracks where going to be translated into meaningful music journalism. Then maybe I can invent my own word, Reviewization!
It appears that post-punk has finally made its way over to the rainy corner of the US, Seattle. Chipper guitar riffs are present here, but take a backseat to the driving bass lines. Overemphasis on the bass isn’t a new idea, but the creative twists the band takes with the configuration are what make it special. Everything that resonates out of the speakers has heavy dissonance, which fills out the “post” in their genres title.
The 4/4 beat is plentiful in “Klang!” making for a speedy pace and positive feeling throughout, much like bands such as Interpol and Echo & The Bunnymen. It really feels like the punk bands of the past, which were filled with wild high pitched shouts with well-rounded and repetitive drum/bass lines. So this busy threesome has put together some charming post-punk that is douse in fluffy energy, with authentic downplayed production. And while “Klang!” is more “Fuzzy!” in the sound department, the poppy beat and growing potential makes sure Motorik has a place in your thoughts. ~Staff
1. Or So I Thought
2. Box of Knives
3. Robert Palmer
4. It’s Just Sugar
5. Utopia Parkway
6. First Rule
7. Hands Tied
8. Patent Kiss
9. Six Filters
No comments at the moment.
AUGUSTA, GA - Though it may seem so at first listen, Benjamin Bear’s “Lungs” is not an easy record to penetrate, either categorically or critically. The simple-as-you-want-it setup of Mychal Cohen (piano/vocals) and David Stern (percussion) belies a lurking complexity, both musically and lyrically, whose idiosyncrasies can only be persuaded to reveal themselves over the course of multiple, very attentive sessions, preferably while you crouch in the corner of your living room, a neglected beer slowly warming at your hip.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Portland's CAVES selected for feature artist on RM64
RM64 is a Los Angeles-based consulting firm that works with music, media and entertainment companies, along with providing content for Film/TV licensing and Brands. RM64 management has a background in consulting for many major labels and music publishers, including Atlantic Records, Epic, Capitol, Virgin, Hollywood, Island, DreamWorks, Geffen, Sony/ATV Music, Warner/Chappell and Chrysalis Music. Their years of experience in the industry have led to hundreds of acts signing major label deals, resulting in millions of album sold.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Self-released (limited to 1000 copies)
I first became aware of Giant Squid when they opened for one of my favorite bands, The Gathering, for a show at the Middle East in March of 2006. I remember I was intrigued by their unique sound, and at the time made a mental note to check them out a bit more after the show. Then The Gathering played an amazing set and wiped out all memories I had of anything before they hit the stage. A year or so later, I finally got around to picking up their debut, Metridium Fields, which I found to be a very interesting mix of experimental and progressive metal, with a strong doom feeling. Jump ahead to 2009, and the band find themselves self-releasing their latest, The Ichthyologist, in a limited (1000 copies) format. This is a concept album, based on a graphic novel of the same name by founding member/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist/lyricist/etc Aaron Gregory.
So, musically, what can you expect from the latest Giant Squid opus? A wide range of styles, mostly rooted in metal, but ranging wildly in all directions. Progressive, experimental, and far reaching would be terms that describe it well. Instruments include your standard guitar/bass/drums, but we also get plenty of other stuff - like a cello (played by Grayceon's Jackie Perez Gratz), trumpet, oboe, flute and banjo. And, they all fit perfectly into the musical compositions laid out here by the band.
"Panthalassa (Lampetra Tridentata)" is the opener, taking us on a journey from a quiet opener with the cello being the focus, to some fiercely heavy parts where the distorted guitar and shouted vocals take the stage (albeit with a trumpet blaring alongside). "La Brea Tar Pits (Pseudomonas Putida)" is a bit spacey and psychadelic for about 3/4 of the song, but ends up with some thrashing riffs before fading out with a solo banjo playing. Pretty interesting and far-reaching stuff so far. "Sutterville (Vibrio Cholerae)" changes things up yet again, with a sound that would fit in nicely at a small jazz cafe, and the majority of the vocals provided here by Jackie.
The highlight of the disc for me is "Sevengill (Notorynchus Cepedianus)", not only because it is a great song, but because it features a guest appearance from one of my favorite vocalists, Anneke van Giersbergen. The first half of the song sounds as if it could be the soundtrack to an old Film Noir from the 40's or 50's, with it's slow, dark and dreary feel, and Aaron's smokey vocals providing the aurally photographic setting for such a film scene. The song picks up bigtime for the last 1/3 or so, with Anneke's powerful voice being joined by a much more gruff attack by Aaron. "Blue Linckia (Linckia Laevigata)" is also a highlight, mainly because of the emotional feeling of both the music and the vocals (and even the lyrics).
Giant Squid certainly isn't going to be for everyone, but they should be. They have no boundaries on their music, either in terms of style or substance. They experiment with all sorts of stuff, weaving in non-standard instrument perfectly well in their musical compositions. If you have an open mind and want to listen to some truly good music, then Giant Squid is for you. Get on over to the bands myspace page and order a copy for yourself, before they're all gone.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Doom Metal / post metal / Sludge Metal / USA
Giant Squid’s second album is similar in style to the first, with layers of keyboards and cellos supplementing the more traditional metal instruments, although they’re just that, supplements, rarely taking over completely. The album just oozes with atmosphere, both in the metallic sections and quieter passages, and the unusual instrumentation is a big factor. Both male and female vocals are utilized, and I greatly preferred the latter; there’s something about the male singer’s voice I find a bit irritating. When he sings high, his voice has an annoying nasally quality to it, and when he tries to sound gravelly, the result is just cheesy. This doesn’t come close to ruining the album, however. Most of the songs have subtitles which are the scientific names of sea life; I’m not sure what that fact is supposed to mean.
My favorite track on the album was one which stuck out as being atypical- “Throwing a Donner Party at Sea” isn’t a stereotypically slow doom metal song, as it clips along at a nice pace. I also liked the song’s use of harsh backing vocals, which is fairly unusual for this band. Another standout track was “Mormon Island;” I enjoyed its near-ambient use of the piano. If there’s one thing I didn’t like about this album, it’s that it lacks an extra-long track like the title track on Metridium Fields; I loved that song and its extremely repetitive but undeniably hypnotic groove. All in all, though, it’s a worthy second effort, and it’s well worth checking out.
posted by Pugs Malone at 6:48 pm
Published by Alexandra on Sunday, February 22, 2009 at 12:45 PM.
They came to laugh, to cry, to save, to die. And most of all, to love everyone in every way.
With Smile Brigade's new EP Eering, Creaky, it's like they've created a song for every important moment of life. Want a softly scarring break up anthem? That would be Hand In A Jar, which informs your ex-lover (or chosen person that you're mad at) that they are dead to you. Smile Brigade will tell you what you need to hear, but with a cushion in the form of sweet, sweet music to soften the blow. For those times when you're enjoying a sunny afternoon on a farm, as all of us are wont to do, there's Josanna, a slightly country ditty that may find you reluctant to go to church and would rather just sit with you on some verandah.
In five songs, the EP covers everything from old-time folk tunes to toothache soft pop with the wisdom of an old bearded man who lives in a forest, used to cut down trees for a living, and knows what it's like to lose love. Part of it probably comes from playing with long-established bands like Of Montreal and Modest Mouse. Take the less-insane Sunlandic Twin days from the former and the latter's firm grip on small-town reality, and that's a little what Smile Brigade is like. And they really do want you to smile. Smile and Smile is probably the standout track, a rolling, piano-driven tune with that easy to learn chorus. No, really, smile. It's in a slightly threatening way that you're afraid they might hurt you if you don't actually do it.
Smile Brigade - Smile and Smile
Labels: mp3, release
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Smile Brigade EP release at High Dive, Saturday, February 21
Folk-pop band Smile Brigade had just released their excellent Eering, Creaking EP this week and tonight they are celebrating the release of said album. When I first heard it, I was drawn in by the arrangements that rely heavily on string instruments (violin, cello, acoustic guitar, etc…). The five-song EP is the successful result of an interesting experiment. Recorded over a span of twenty-four hours, the melodies still sound expansive and complete and mesh well with haunting, Dylan-inspired harmonies and lyrics.
This is will be the band’s first (and possibly only) acoustic show and they’ll share the High Dive stage with The Globes, Lord Dog Bird and Spanish for 100.
WHAT: It makes sense to hear the refrain "Smile, smile, smile" in a Smile Brigade song. "You are dead to me/ You are dead to me," on the other hand, comes as a bit of a surprise. The way this folksy foursome makes it work, however, is keeping the rhythms brisk and the melodies light so that everything just sort of smiles, even the listener. There's also some demonstrated musicianship, especially on the band's new five-song EP, which was recorded in 24 hours; it also features string filigrees that give the collection a slight touch of urban hipster hootenanny. The group includes Jeremy Charbonneau (percussion, vocals), Peter Colclasure (keys, piano, vocals), Leonardo Hartomo (bass) and principal songsmith Jesse Hiram Boggs (guitar, vocals).
MONIKER: "Jeremy had an orthodontist shirt with teeth marching. He said it looked like a smile brigade and a light went off in my head," Boggs recalls. "Reminds me of the names Joy Division, Bright Eyes and Nirvana. Real positive sounding and kind of fresh."
CAREER DEBUT: The High Dive, November 2007.
RULES: "We practice regularly, and if one member shows up late he takes a dollar out of his wallet and murmurs 'Forgive me,' and then he tacks his dollar to our band-fund wall. It encourages punctuality."
RELEASES: "Take the Precious Edge Off This Treacherous Ledge" (LP, 2007), an acoustic EP, "Eering, Creaky" (2009), and one 7-inch single, "Sing Song" (2005)
WHERE TO LISTEN: smilebrigademusic.com
NEXT SHOW: Saturday at the High Dive with Spanish for 100; 21 and over. Tickets: $6 at the club. Information: highdiveseattle.com
-- Shawn Telford
This Seattle trio’s debut might be named after the 4/4 Krautrock beat, but their musical roots are really in post-punk. Bassist/vocalist Sio spins out trebly lines and yelps away with the requisite intensity, while guitarist Adrian throws moody riffs into nearly every number. The band may be new but the players are not: Adrian and drummer Hoagie previously performed together in the punk D.C. Beggars and Frail. On Klang! They’re not afraid to experiment, throwing in occasional synth lines and electronically-treated drums. And songs like “It’s Just Sgar” show they’ve also picked up some pop starts along the way.
~ Tony Sclafani
"For The Cause Self-Released"
When a talented duo comes together like Mike Kunz and Donn Aaron, who make up Romeo Spike, you don't need to dive two far into their debut album to see the immense amount of talent that you have just stumbled upon. Though there is some additional programming and back up vocals that are thrown into the mix on "For The Cause," it's the odd placement of Donn Aaron's pedal steel, usually an instrument that is used in country music, that sets the tone for the genius of this album. For the most part you are going to hear a classic rock sound with a modern approach ala Peter Gabriel in that the vocals are presented in a way that sometimes comes across as a whisper as is best displayed on the slower paced tracks like "Candy Heart." Though they aren't afraid to show off their rock approach either as they show on the guitar driven "Laserbeams" and with the pounding rhythms on "Spector's Ghost." But it is the prominent use of the pedal steel that through it all continued to stand out the most and that is no more evident than on "Cocaine Skinny." Sometimes an album like this leaves a lot to be desired as the artists will tend to stray far to the left of the dial in an effort to be unique, but that is not the case here. The blending of uniqueness is perfectly laced over a radio friendly mix of pop and rock driven sounds making this album and easy listen and at the same time falling into the category of "doesn't sound like anything else out there right now."
Friday, February 20, 2009
DALE W. EISINGER Culture Editor
With a locked-in rhythm section and a towering, but comfortable sound, Twin Tigers from Athens, Ga., surfs waves of noise/psychedelic/shoegaze ushered in by the likes of fuzzsters No Age, Deerhunter, and the recently resurrected My Bloody Valentine. Sure, it sounds a little familiar.
But where those "big" bands seem more exacting, Twin Tigers thrives on the sheer pleasure of the groove more than a dense sonic tableaux. The Tigers could get nods from introverted Violens listeners as well as drearier fans of Asobi Seksu.
Don't let that offend you, fans para Seksu; Twin Tigers just take a little more time in getting to the point. But it always goes down smooth.
A new EP by the quartet is out now digitally and on 7-inch under Old Flame Records.
Side A, "Sexless Love," hits heavy right off the bat and slides into a lofty chant.
Glamorous but unadorned, ferocious, devastating and ultimately forgiving, the sky-high climax touches the cohesion of TV on the Radio but still holds its own.
Side B, "Envy," really stands out, building into a jamming bridge slowly, carefully, but without losing the directive of the groove. While it sounds as fresh as anything right now, the coolest thing about this song is the "How it Feels to be Something On" Sun Day Real Estate vibe.
"Man we gotta put this out!" Matthew Rain, Twin Tigers frontman, said of the band's shared sentiment in creating the release. "I don't want to say scrapped together. It makes me happy because we just started this new collective with this record label. All the attention is kind of unnerving. I've been playing music since I was a little kid. You never know what people are going to familiarize with in our tunes, but it's always great."
The driving vocals of "Envy" really make the track exceptional. "I know you're out there/I feel your eyes on me/I know the reason for your demons."
"It's a song with a story just like any other - lost love. Nothing entirely new," Rain said. "Envy" closes with a noisy, unconstrained guitar flail, giving credit where credit is due to masters of noise (Sonic Youth, Boris, etc.).
With Deerhunter and of Montreal as precedents for stage antics (among a cast of many legendary Athens acts), Rain says the live show is energetic and thoughtful.
"You can't think about that stuff," Rain, who lived in Orofino at one time, said. "I don't think you even have to be a music critic to understand that sometimes you can get over the top when dialing it in."
Practicing in a rented basement on the eastside of Athens, Twin Tigers draws as much from the Beatles and Velvet Underground as the aforementioned artists. "My favorite record last year was that Beach House album ["Devotion"]," Rain said.
**NICO VEGA (MYSPACE RECORDS) http://www.myspace.com/nicovega
**Dear and the Headlights (Equal Vision Records) http://www.myspace.com/DearandtheHeadlights
**Loch Lomond - (Hush Records and Bladen County (vinyl)) http://www.myspace.com/lochlomondmusic
**Driver F www.myspace.com/driverf (UNSIGNED)
FRIDAY NIGHT SHOW March 20th @ TINIEST BAR IN TEXAS (817 W. 5th Street) 8-12am >>OFFICIAL PARTY of DoubleStereo and XO PUBLICITY<<
*After Midnight Project (Universal Records) http://www.myspace.com/AfterMidnightProject
*Lights Resolve (Unsigned) http://www.myspace.com/lightsresolve
*The Photo Atlas (Morning After Records) http://www.myspace.com/danceatlasdance
*Phantogram (Barsuk Records, BBE (outside North America) / Sub-Bombin) http://www.myspace.com/Phantogram